Burtnyk's odyssey

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

Kerry Burtnyk experienced his own curling odyssey back in 2001.

Eight years later, Burtnyk is seeking similar success with slightly better results in a renewed chase for that elusive OIympic glory.

First, his Assiniboine Memorial squad won the Manitoba title in the best provincial final ever played in '01, defeating Dale Duguid. Then, he lost the Brier final to Alberta's Randy Ferbey.

After undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous lump from his scalp, Burtnyk recovered in time to get to the 2001 Olympic trials final. But he lost to Alberta's Kevin Martin, who then won Olympic silver.

"It was quite a year for me, especially personally because we lost the final at the Brier, I had a cancer operation and lost the final at the Olympic trials," Burtnyk said after being named the No. 1 seed for the 2009 Safeway Championship, which will be back in Selkirk again next week. "Probably, that year is one that I will remember for the rest of my life.

"It was definitely a challenging year. It had some highs and lows but I would not describe it as a bad year at all. To be in the final of the Brier and the trials in the same year is quite an achievement, especially with all of the guys we had to play against. And to overcome a battle against cancer at the same time, I think there's a lot more better things that happened that year than bad things. It really is highs and lows because losing that Olympic trials final is probably the most difficult thing I've ever had to overcome on the curling ice."

Burtnyk took the 2005 season off but his competitive juices re-ignited when he watched Newfoundland's Brad Gushue beat Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton in the Olympic trials, then go on to win Olympic gold.

"There was still a fire inside me that wanted to try one more time and that's what I've been doing for a couple of years now," said Burtnyk, the defending provincial champ. "We're getting closer and closer and we've got a chance to potentially lock away a spot in the Olympic trials themselves, as opposed to being in the pre-trials (qualifying spiel). So, that's the big goal right now ... This provincial playdown is huge in itself but it has added importance because of that."

Burtnyk could also tie Stoughton's record of six Manitoba titles.

"I've never won this back-to-back so, this is an opportunity to do that and that's probably my motivation right now," he said.

Charleswood's Stoughton, Assiniboine Memorial's Mike McEwen, Deer Lodge's Pete Nicholls and West Kildonan's Reid Carruthers round out the top five seeds, in that order.

Like Burtnyk, Stoughton had set his sites on getting back to the Brier where he could gain more CTRS points in the race to get one of the last two straight-through trips to the trials.

"At the start of the year, our No. 1 goal was to get to the Brier and this is when we want to peak," Stoughton said. "But this is no different than any other provincials. You are intense because you want to win so bad ... We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to win it but there are no guarantees ... There's a lot more depth in Manitoba than people realize."

Assiniboine Memorial's David Bohn, Brandon's Allan Lyburn and Terry McNamee, Beausejour's Daley Peters and Petersfield's Dave Boehmer round out the top 10 seeds for the provincials to be played Feb. 18-22.

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SAFEWAY CHAMPIONSHIP

Top 16 seeds

1. Kerry Burtnyk, Assiniboine-Memorial

2. Jeff Stoughtion, Charleswood

3. Mike McEwen, Assiniboine-Memorial

4. Pete Nicholls, Deer Lodge

5.Reid Carruthers, West Kildonan

6. David Bohn, Assiniboine-Memorial

7. Allan Lyburn, Brandon

8. Terry McNamee, Brandon

9. Daley Peters, Beausejour

10. Dave Boehmer, Petersfield

11. Brendan Taylor, West Kildonan

12. Randy Neufeld, La Salle

13. Chris Galbraith, Rosser

14. Kelly Skinner, Hamiota

15. Bob Sigurdson, Granite

16. Kelly Robertson, Neepawa


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